Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Survival of the Fittest...

I think my dog's teeth are bothering her again. She had 15 of them removed last spring when I took her in for a cleaning. It was not due to my lack of brushing her teeth, but to bone loss in her jaw. She is only 5 years old, so it was quite disturbing, not to mention expensive. Now she's beginning to act the same way she did before that happened. She's having more trouble chewing her favorite treat and her breath is bad. But she hasn't shown signs of less energy yet. I've tried to determine if she has more loose teeth, but I can barely hold onto her little jaw.

So I guess it's time to take her to the vet, the same vet who told me something I didn't know about dogs. "Dogs," she said, "tend to not complain or act like they are hurting or sick. It's because they are still ruled by their natural instincts, one of which is 'survival of the fittest.' " So unlike people, I thought, who have developed a system of taking care of the sick and hurting, although it is not perfect, pets will continue to pretend that they are okay even when their owners will spend hundreds of dollars on them to prevent or cure their pets' ailments.

I remembered this yesterday when thinking about the confrontation I had with my sister last weekend. I always wondered why she and my other step-sister never spoke up for themselves or rebelled or ran away from an unacceptable homelife, when I spoke up and rebelled maybe too much, leaving home as soon as I could. "The squeaky wheel gets oiled," my mother would say later, thanking me for at least letting her know how I felt...

It suddenly made sense to me. My sisters had already lost their mother to cancer. They were too young to know that their mother had not abandoned them but old enough to think that she had. They were in the "survival of the fittest" mode. They had to pretend, even deny, that they were hurting when my mother would lash out at them or, worse, ignore them. They did not want to be abandoned again. I was older. I knew my father had abandoned me and I was angry at the one person who was there for me - my mother.

It became clear to me why my sisters and I had reacted differently to the same situation, and it wasn't just because we had different parents or personalities. My sisters are very different from each other, yet they are still non-reactive most of the time, rarely speaking up for themselves, and when they do it is like a geyser or volcano, depending on how much time has gone by since they last erupted. One sister erupts almost daily when I'm around her. The one I had the confrontation with seldom erupts. In fact, I don't ever recall her getting as angry, if that's what one can call it, as she did this last weekend.

Of course, whether she has truly forgiven me or not, she has crawled back into her shell of self-protection. She dare not speak her mind with me anymore for fear of rejection. Being a single woman, her family, as dysfunctional as it is, is all she has besides her church and work friends, which we all know from experience aren't always there for us when we really need them. So naturally, she will pretend and even deny that she is still angry with me. I know I'd still be angry with me. Heck, I am still angry with me. I'm feeling a bit depressed - anger turned inwards...

God, I pray for my sister's higher good, her healing from childhood hurts, and happiness. I thank you for the Al-Anon program and its tools so that I may move forward rather than backward. That I can forgive myself even as you have forgiven me. I ask for the knowledge of your will for me today, and the power to carry that out. Help me to crawl out of my shell and "fake it 'til I make it" just for today. Help me do the next best thing, what is right in front of me. One thing at a time. One day at a time. Thank you for the golden leaves, although fleeting. Thank you for my life and the blessing of family and friends, even if they are not as many or as close as I'd like. I pray for true humility, that I may better serve you and others. Amen.


At Thursday, October 05, 2006 12:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear hope in your words,nice to read.Thank you for sharing~

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

I think you have great insight!
I was the rebel in my family, where my bro was kinda like your sister in a lot of ways...
good stuff thank you for sharing this

I hope your dogs teeth is ok too.

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 1:16:00 PM, Blogger Sober Chick said...

It would be nice if our animals would come out and tell us how they feel. lol, I was pre-vet and worked as an animal health technician for 6 years, our perception of how to be when physically in pain is completely different from animals. Thier fears differ from our, and sometimes I get lost at applying human tenencies towards my pets. It is natural, but thank goodness for modern medicine that we can help our domestic pets to live a healthy and tolerant life. I hope the teeth situation works out.

I try not to take my brother's inventory when it comes to how he has delt and is dealing with the fact that our dad has been and is an alcoholic. I listen to him, and love him for his decisions, that acceptance thing can be struggling at times but how I can breath when I allow it.

Your prayer is beautiful, covering many aspects. I really am glad that you have Al-anon, I am grateful for the program overall. It has helped put families back together and helped God's children flourish even on their darkest days.

I am sorry to hear of your pain as a child, however it is your greatest asset and will aid in helping someone else heal. The miracles of the programs, isn't it wonderful.

Thank you for you share and honesty!

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 3:57:00 PM, Blogger Al-Anon Lifer said...

Yup, we should never pretend to understand how other people feel or what motivates them. And we certainly can't interpret their actions or inactions. But we can sometimes have an incite that gives us more compassion than we did before. Even if we're not right, it gets us on the right path again. One of the things I love about this program is that we are told not to do each other's inventories, even those we sponsor. Thank you for that reminder, SC :-)

At Thursday, January 11, 2007 2:26:00 AM, Blogger Jenni said...

When you write about depression as anger turned inwards, my heart goes: "Yes! yes!" and my head goes: "eeehh uuuhmmmm" slow.
Thank you.


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